by Stephen King
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'Salem's Lot | The Stand
Ghostly bursts of plaster dust. A low, rhythmic sound in the background:
redrum-REDRUM-redrum-REDRUM. A sense of something evil swirling inward on itself, like a
whirlpool of black ectoplasmic energy. The experience of being inside the actual
consciousness (come out and take your medicine!) of a frightened little boy. Echoes of
Shirley Jackson ("whatever walked there, walked alone"), of Poe's "Masque
of the Red Death," and of creepy folk tales (Hansel and
How do we love The Shining? Let us count the ways. In 1977, The Shining
was the first widely read novel to confront alcoholism and child abuse in baby-boomer
families--especially the way alcoholism, a will toward failure in one's work, and abusing
one's kids are passed down from generation to generation. The heart of the book is not an
evil hotel but a pair of father-son relationships: Jack and his father, Jack and his son.
This was both daring and insightful for its time, long before "dysfunctional
family" was a cliché.
The Shining was written in a frenzy. Stephen King imagined the whole novel
in his head while sitting up all night in the dark, in the very Colorado hotel where the
story takes place. He then transcribed it (that's how he puts it) in a burst of sustained
energy. He could pull that off because, even at that early point in his career, King had
figured out a successful way of structuring a popular novel. The speed of its composition
gives the writing a powerful flow that sweeps you along past the awkward wording.
The Shining is one of those rare novels that can burn its images--such as
Room 217--into your brain. Time alone will tell, but The Shining may well turn out to be
one of the best horror novels ever written. By the way, you know that movie starring Jack
Nicholson? Stephen King says, "I have my days when I think I gave Kubrick a live
grenade on which he heroically threw his body."
On The Flap
The Overlook Hotel claimed the most beautiful physical setting of any
resort in the world; but Jack Torrance, the new winter caretaker, with his wife Wendy and
their five-year-old son Danny, saw much more than its splendor.
Jack saw the Overlook as an opportunity, a desperate way back from failure
and despair; Wendy saw this lonely sanctuary as a frail chance to preserve their family;
and Danny?...Danny, who was blessed or cursed with a shining, precognitive gift, saw
visions hideously beyond the comprehension of a small boy. He sensed the evil coiled
within the Overlook's 110 empty rooms; an evil that was waiting just for them.
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